Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can all cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by virus.
In the case of Hepatitis B, the infection is caused by Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). Some people with hepatitis B are sick for only a few weeks (known as “acute” infection), but for others, the disease progresses to a serious, lifelong illness known as chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection is associated with an increased risk of cirrhosis, hepatic decompensation and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Acute hepatitis B is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis B virus. Some people with acute hepatitis B have no symptoms at all or only mild illness. For others, acute hepatitis B causes a more severe illness that requires hospitalization.
Some people, especially those who get infected in adulthood, are able to clear the virus from their bodies without treatment. For other people, acute hepatitis B leads to life-long infection known as chronic hepatitis B. Over time, chronic hepatitis B can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.
Main prevention measure
If anyone diagnosis as hepatitis B, then his or her all sexual partners, family and close household members living with a chronically infected person should be tested and vaccinated. It is important to remember that hepatitis B is not spread casually! It is not spread by coughing, sneezing, hugging, cooking and sharing food. It is spread through direct contact with infected blood and bodily fluids.
Additional Prevention Measures
In addition to vaccination, there are other simple ways to help stop the spread of hepatitis B:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any potential exposure to blood
- Use condoms with sexual partners
- Avoid direct contact with blood and bodily fluids
- Clean up blood spills with a fresh diluted bleach solution (mix 1 part bleach with 9 parts water)
- Cover all cuts carefully
- Avoid sharing sharp items such as razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, and earrings or body rings
- Discard sanitary napkins and tampons into plastic bags
- Avoid illegal street drugs (injecting, inhaling, snorting, or popping pills)
- Make sure new, sterile needles are used for ear or body piercing, tattoos, and acupuncture
Hepatitis B Transmission
How is hepatitis B spread?
Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. People can become infected with the virus from:
- Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth)
- Sex with an infected partner
- Sharing needles, syringes, or drug preparation equipment
- Sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors, or medical equipment (like a glucose monitor) with an infected person
- Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
- Exposure to an infected person’s blood through needlesticks or other sharp instruments
Hepatitis B is not spread through food or water, sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, hand holding, coughing, or sneezing.